High Voltage was recently accused of retaliating against author T. Michael Murdock after he wrote a negative review of Conduit 2. In the review, he bashed the game, ridiculing its story and presentation, and even went so far as to spoil a major plot point. That same day, a number of negative reviews hit Murdock’s book on Amazon.
As it turns out, the folks over at High Voltage are being held responsible for all of the negativity directed toward the book. Conduit 2 Art Director Matt Corso sent out an email to fellow High Voltage staff members, saying, “Michael was kind enough to recently provide us with a Conduit 2 review. And so in turn you should all feel at liberty to (of course read it first) and then return the favor by writing a reader review for Michael’s book for him.”
Following four negative reader reviews on Amazon, High Voltage Chief Creative Officer Eric Nofsinger confirmed that the email was valid, but he stated that it was done in a “tongue-in-cheek” manner not meant to be taken seriously. Corso added, “My mind wasn’t really in that dark of a place when I wrote that. In fact, I seriously considered buying the book myself. I wanted to know how good it really was that this guy felt so in the right to trash our game and give away the ending like he did. And then post a plug to his book at the end, implying that we suck and he is totally great.”
Murdock isn’t buying Corso’s statement, though, and claims that High Voltage is trying to get the industry to look past the whole fiasco. It’s hard to choose sides here, and I genuinely believe that both High Voltage and Murdock screwed up. If you look at Corso’s email, he distinctly wrote that the staff should read the book first before they reviewed it. Obviously, his fellow employees did no such thing. And while Corso has every right to bash a game he doesn’t like, I find it completely unacceptable that he gave away the ending to Conduit 2. That’s just rotten, and it spoils the game for anyone who actually wants to play it.
I haven’t played Conduit 2 or its predecessor, but I have heard good and bad things about both. And from what I’ve heard, the ending to Conduit 2 is supposed to be pretty awesome. Spamming something with negative reviews on Amazon is detestable, no doubt about it. But spoiling the ending of a game just because you don’t like it is completely unethical. You don’t see me reviewing historical shooters–a genre that I can’t stand–and giving away the entire plot. Although if you have a sense of history, you probably know how most of these games end, anyway.